KANSAS CITY, Kan. — C.J. Sapong wanted to put on a performance for the home supporters. Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes wanted a possession-oriented, high-pressure game.
Each got what he wanted — and the decisive victory that came with it.
Sapong scored his second goal of the young season and drew a critical first-half foul that resulted in the ejection of New England Revolution defender Stephen McCarthy to help propel Sporting to a 3-0 win in their home opener on Saturday night.
Sporting (2-0-0) got first-half goals from Graham Zusi and Kei Kamara, a second straight by goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, and a whole lot of high-decibel love from the standing-room only crowd of 19,777 at Livestrong Sporting Park.
New England, meanwhile, are seeing its 2011 struggles carry over into this season. Since beating FC Dallas 1-0 last Sept. 10, the Revs (0-2-0) are winless in their last eight league matches. The Revs have been outscored 4-0 in their two losses this season.
The home supporters, already raucous from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, almost had cause for celebration just nine minutes in. Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis came too far out of his area and gave Sporting an open-goal opportunity, but Roger Espinoza’s long chip hit the woodwork.
Despite the miss, that sequence set Sporting’s tone for the night: Attack early, attack often (with a 27-11 advantage in shots on the night) and make New England pay for their mistakes.
Perhaps their costliest came in the 14th minute when McCarthy was shown a straight red for a foul on Sapong. It was the second ejection in as many games at LSP for New England, and the eighth in the last 10 meetings between the two sides (six of those for the Revolution).
Zusi was the first to take advantage of the man-advantage, cleaning up in front of goal in the 28th minute. Kamara sent in a ball from the right, and Zusi slid to shoot. Reis did well to save, but the rebound fell to Zusi, who fired home while still on the ground.
The second goal came on another putback attempt, this time by Kamara. Left winger Bobby Convey, who started despite an abdominal strain, drove into the area and crossed to Kamara in the 39th minute. Reis blocked his first low shot, but Kamara pounced on the rebound and drove it home for a 2-0 lead.
Sapong, starting at center forward with Teal Bunbury on US Olympic team duty, put the game away less than two minutes into the second half when he scored from point-blank range on a cross from left back Seth Sinovic.
He nearly made it 4-0 five minutes from time, when he broke free for a 1-on-1 against Reis, but pushed the ball wide left after failing to fake out the ’keeper.
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